Posted on October 25th, 2014 No comments
Last Tuesday was the first lesson in our new square dance group at Devon, Alberta. I’d rented a Bose L1 Compact to play with, and this was a good opportunity to test it out.
To my surprise, when I turned down the music and was greeting the dancers, I could hear what sounded like a football game coming over the L1. It was faint, and people could hear my voice fine, but they could also hear the radio. We ignored it for the first part of the lesson, because when the music was playing, we couldn’t hear it much.
During the lesson, I noticed that when I shut the mic off, the radio sound quit. Aha! At the first break, I changed to a shorter mic cord. No more game in the background.
I later asked the guy at Long & McQuade, where I had rented the Bose, and he said that it sometimes happened. Could have been coming from the power in the building, and plugging into a different receptacle might have helped; could have been a cross-wired mic cord, and I could check the connections (did that when I got home, all okay); but changing the cord showed that the first cord was just the right length to be an antenna and pull in the radio signal.
Would never have dreamed that could happen — but at least I had a spare cord and was able to fix the issue quickly and still look fairly professional.
Posted on October 20th, 2014 No comments
My square dance sound system was a freebie, donated by a retired caller, and I was grateful to receive it four years ago when I was just starting out. It’s an old Hilton Micro 75A turntable/amp, with a stacked speaker, manufactured around 1980.
The Hilton is still in fair shape (after I added a new needle, blew out the dust, replaced a weak capacitor, serviced the turntable, and rewired the out-of-phase speakers. Free usually comes with a price!)
The speaker cabinet had clearly seen better days. The corners are chipped, and somebody saw fit to install the mesh over the speakers with hot glue. Works okay, but looks like hell. I bought some metal box ends to cover the bashed corners, which shaped it up somewhat.
This was a great unit to learn on, and served me well for the first year. I continued to use it as an amp even after I converted all my 45 rpm records to MP3 a year later. But even so, I’m thinking that the old equipment looks a bit crude. It’s was good technology in its day, with solid-state digital circuitry, but it’s almost forty years old. Modern equipment is lighter and more efficient.
Sure, a good caller with old equipment is still a good caller, and a bad caller with good equipment is still a bad caller, but an old caller with old equipment just looks dated. There is something to be said for at least looking professional.
A couple of the younger callers in our area have moved to the Bose L1 Compact. A single unit is supposed to serve crowd up to 100 dancers. The L1C includes a woofer, a two-channel amp preset for microphone and line/guitar, gives out a tremendous volume of sound (though my son, who is in the home theatre business, argues that Bose speakers are weak in the mid-range), covers almost 180 degrees from a single speaker column, and is resistant to feedback even when the caller and mic stand right in front of the speakers. And it weighs about 15 kg in two small packages.
So I’m going to buy a little mixer and rent a couple of the Bose L1 units to use at the Trek 2014 Reunion Hoedown I’m calling on October 25.
Posted on October 19th, 2014 No comments
Wow! It’s been busy! Last week we had 18 registered for the Intro to Square Dance in Devon. Of those, 15 came (we heard from the other three, who unfortunately couldn’t make it). Of that 15, I think 12 have signed up for lessons. Check out the Meetup page or my Schedule for more information about the lessons.
Then today, another new caller, Alan Ellis, and I took part in a Callers Without Clubs dance at SEESA from 1:00 to 4:00. It was a good dance and a good practice that gave me a better awareness of my strengths and weaknesses and what I need to work on to improve.
Posted on September 27th, 2014 No comments
I added an event on Facebook. First time!
Took me a while to find it on my page. I’ll make it easy: Go HERE
Posted on September 17th, 2014 No comments
Had the opportunity to try two of Lay’s new Canadian potato chip flavors.
First up: Bacon Poutine. On opening the bag, I did note a scent of bacon. The chips do taste a bit like bacon, a bit like gravy. Couldn’t get any sense of cheese. They were okay, not as good as BBQ by any means. Perhaps that’s because I found the flavours quite subtle, without the tang or bite of BBQ. My wife ate a couple but didn’t want more. Neither did I, really, but we’d paid for the bag, so I washed them down with rum & cola. They weren’t all that bad, just sort of “Meh!”.
Next in line: Cinnamon Bun. We both had left these sitting on the counter for a couple of days. Neither of us really wanted to open them. When do you eat cinnamon buns? For breakfast, or maybe a coffee time snack. We couldn’t quite manage the idea of having potato chips for breakfast, so finally we opened them with an afternoon coffee. Okay, they smell of cinnamon. So far, so good. Wife ate one, refused the rest. I had two and didn’t want any more. We wound up throwing the rest away. Gotta be the worst flavor imaginable for potato chips. Ick. I can’t believe that anybody would vote for these. De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess.
After this inauspicious beginning, do we dare try the other two (jalapeno mac ‘n’ cheese and tzatziki)?
Posted on September 14th, 2014 No comments
Saturday night we called a hoedown for CANYA, Classis Alberta North Young Adults, at a facility south of Spruce Grove.
This was a repeat engagement, and again a lively bunch wth about four squares (32 people) dancing on an outdoor patio.
About a third were there last year, and requested moves from that night. I called the ABC Basics program, again meaning to move into the A moves, but wound up doing some old-time dances including Pattycake Polka, Rip & Snort, and No-Name Contra, all of which were immensely popular.
It was a cool night. The dancers stayed warm because I kept them moving (and they’re hot-blooded anyway), but by the end of the night I was wearing a hoodie, a jean jacket, and a vest, and trading hands between holding the mike and warming up in a pocket.
Several came up to thank us afterwards and say they enjoyed the dance and the variety compared to last year. Several took brochures and business cards and said they would see about having a dance in their home church (CAN is a division of the Christian Reformed Church).
Future gigs would be nice, but watching the folks laughing and having fun sure makes it fun for us.
Posted on September 6th, 2014 No comments
Got an email recently from the Bonnie Doon Stake, as a follow up to Trek.I was at the Hoe down you did for the Mormon church out near Cold Lake last month and I’m in charge of activities for the Bonnie Doon Stake. We were wondering if you are available to come and do another Hoe Down for us on either October 24 or 25. We will be holding this Hoe Down at our Bonnie Doon location…. Are you able to be our caller?Apparently there will be up to 300 people. The event has been booked for Oct. 25 and is on my calling calendar.Repeat business is a terrific compliment.
Posted on August 21st, 2014 No comments
Recently bought a smart phone. Loving it, should have got one years ago!
It’s with Rogers, which has a customer loyalty program that offers points for their monthly contract and other things. Today I got an email from Rogers offering three rewards for under 1000 points: movies, a monthly TV theme pack, and long-distance phone minutes.
Since our contract has unlimited long-distance in Canada, that last one isn’t of great value. As for the other rewards, thanks but no thanks. They’re clearly oriented to couch potatoes, sluggards, stay-at-homes, and the obese-to-be. A one-month TV pack, oh my fat butt!
I look forward to receiving rewards for the active and energetic. How about a pass to a local fitness center, coupons for active wear, discounts at a bike shop.
Posted on August 12th, 2014 No comments
Today I took my truck in to Leduc Chrysler, 6102-46A Street, for an oil change and their 15-point “Peace of Mind Inspection”
Invoice 158364 reads “1D Lube, oil and filter change, checked and topped up all fluids, checked and adjusted tire pressures [my emphasis] and performed a 15 point visual inspection.”
Noting that the tire pressure was not on the inspection form, I suggested to the service advisor on duty, Chuck, that I’d appreciate it if he would confirm the tire pressures, as one had been low. He had me drive into the service reception bay and found one tire at 45 psi and three at 60 psi. A check of the door sticker showed they should be Front 50 psi and Rear 40 psi for light loads or Front 60 and Rear 70 for heavy loads.
It was pretty obvious that the pressures had not been “checked and adjusted”. (A second issue was that the passenger side windshield wiper is torn. I had been planning to replace it, but thought I’d just leave it to see if it turned up on the inspection. It didn’t.)
Chuck did all the right things — fixed the tire pressures, admitted the error, apologized on behalf of the company, said he would raise the matter with the tech and service manager, and did the best he could to make things right by waiving the cost of the “Peace of Mind” inspection.
But there is NO peace of mind in this case. I have absolutely no confidence that anything was inspected; how do I know that the tech didn’t just blithely run down the list checking everything? For that matter, how do I know that the oil and filter were actually changed?
Obviously, this will cost Leduc Chrysler a customer. And if you’re in Leduc and reading this post, you might consider going somewhere else too.
By the way, Chuck kept the POM inspection form, and I didn’t receive a copy of it stapled to my invoice. I think that’s odd too. I wonder if it will somehow miraculously change to show the tire pressures. Peace of mind, indeed.
Posted on August 10th, 2014 No comments
Got to call a street dance at the Summer Oldstice on June 21, sponsored by Uptowne Olds. It was windy and cold at first, but the day warmed up and it turned out to be a great day for an outdoor dance.
Through some mixup, the “angels” (experienced square dancers and volunteers) we expected weren’t present, but we went ahead anyway. Different people came to dance at different times during the hour, and we had some older folks, a bunch of pre-teen girls, some teen girls. Overall, I think about 40 different people took part, which I think is pretty good.
The highlight for me was when a group of special-needs folks were watching and I invited them to dance. So we had a square with three wheel chairs and a few others from the group. It was wonderful to see how much they enjoyed the dancing, laughing and waving their hands.
<IMG: An Oldstice-Fashion Square Dance Olds Albertan Tuesday Jun 24 2014 page 1>
PS We later ran into someone from the Olds Calico Capers square dance club, and apparently they hadn’t even heard about the event until they read about it in the local paper. We’ve discussed the issue with the organizer and hope to be back next year with a stronger program.